Montreux, Switzerland: by the artist, Feb. 1969. Gerard de Rose. original. Framed. Painting by Gerard de Rose (1918-87) for the Time magazine cover depicting novelist "Vladimir Nabokov," dated May 23, 1969.
The famous cover of the novelist at his peak bears a banner in the upper right reading: "THE NOVEL IS ALIVE / and Living in Antiterra." Titled in the upper left area: "Vladimir Nabokov / Sketch for Thime Magazine/ Montreaux Feb 1969." Oil on canvas (Unframed: 27.6" x 17.7" / 70.0 x 45.0 cm; Framed: 33.6" x 23.6" / 85.3 x 60.0 cm.). Fine. Item #345
This is a rare, fine, and large oil painting on canvas SIGNED by the artist Gerard de Rose (1918-1987) of Vladimir Nabokov, the world-renowned Russian-American author and lepidopterist. De Rose painted this highly finished study from the life in Montreux, Switzerland.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Nabokov (1899-1987) sat for this portrait in his Montreux hotel room in early February, 1969. Time magazine had commissioned De Rose to paint Nabokov for its February 23rd issue. This bright, lively painting was used for the final cover painting, which included additional background elements. The painting used for Time's cover is now housed in the U.S. National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution.
Gerard de Rose [with an accent on the final "e"] was the son of an emigree Russian professor of music and surgeon. The talented artist studied briefly at the Royal College of Art (1939) but from Dunkirk on wore the uniform of the Royal Engineers. After the war, de Rose returned to the Royal College of Art and became a lecturer. From 1958-67, he served as the head of the art faculty at Maidstone College of Art. In 1961, Gerard de Rose was elected to the Royal Society of British Artists (RBA). Working mainly as a portraitist, he exhibited in numerous shows in Britain such as at the Royal Academy, Manchester and Alwin galleries, as well as at shows throughout the United States. (adapting Wiki.)
Compared to the final Time cover that appeared a month later, this penultimate painting lacks the artist's inclusion of a few items associated with Nabokov.
Those collage elements of cover art included two butterflies (one, a small "blue" Lycaena argiolus on Nabokov's shoulder: a species he made famous as a lepidoperist; the other a brown wood nymph above his head). The Time cover also depicted three Scrabble pieces labeled in Cyrillic Russian script to suggest Nabokov's love of words and gamesmanship. The cover also included a small tromp l'oeil sketch of Nabokov's mother "pinned to the wall" originally sketched by Léon Bakst in 1910; and two onion-domed cupulas of St. Basil's Cathedral in Moscow in the lower left.
[Given the author's fascination with chess and recurrent use of games as metaphor, one assumes spatial factors may have prevented the artist from including other pictorial allusions to chess pieces.]
The Time issue includes under "Books," a clever piece entitled "I Have Never Seen a More Lucid, More Lonely, Better Balanced Mad Mind Than Mine: Nabokov" by staffers who interviewed Nabokov at his apartment in Montreux. Another article about the novelist in the magazine was "Prospero's Progress," by Harry Levin, a Harvard professor of English who did much to advance Vladimir's career (dated Friday, May 23, 1969).
A copy of the original Time magazine with Nabokov on its cover will be furnished to the purchaser of the painting.
Provenance: Dominic Winter Book Auctions, South Cherney, Gloucestershire, England, January 28, 2010, lot 366; European dealer. A certificate of authenticity will be provided upon request.